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UE4: 3 Ways to Organize Your Material Editor (Descriptions, Comments and Reroute Nodes)

Category: UE4
March 30, 2020

I came back to a project I worked on months ago creating landscape materials.

I couldn't make sense of my own work - wires running everywhere, material expressions all over the place. It took me few hours to sort it all out and it wasn't a very complex material.

I can't have this happen again. It is my own material and I couldn't understand what the hell I did.

Even worse, if I had to give that material to anyone else they wouldn't know what to do with it. We probably wouldn't be friends any more.

I can't waste time trying to make sense of my own work.

So here are 3 ways I organize all my materials in UE4. I now know what everything does and if I come back to it months later I'll continue where I left off.

3 Ways to Organize Your Material Editor

  • Adding Descriptions
  • Creating Comment Boxes
  • Using Reroute Nodes

Video Tutorial

Organize #1: Adding Descriptions

Each material expression can have a description that will be visible inside the Material Editor. A description can be added to any expression.

Select the node you will see a small box with 3-dots pop up above and to the left:

Left Click on it and enter a description:

Another way to add a description is go to Details panel and under Desc field, enter your text.

Organize #2: Creating Comment Boxes

Adding comment boxes around a series of expressions is probably the best way to organize your materials.

Left-Click Hold and Drag a marquee selection around series of material expressions.

Then press C to create a Comment Box. Name the Comment Box:

Do this to a series of expressions that perform something within the Material Editor. Below I created comment boxes around Roughness, Normal Maps, Color, Pixel Depth and so on:

You can see how more organized this becomes and easy to understand what is going on.

Organize #3: Using Reroute Nodes

Reroute nodes are a way to create an "extension cord" functionality from which you can drag additional wires from.

Below I have wires running from a single Clamp that goes through the entire material setup. This creates chaotic visual mess.

If you Double Click on the Connection Wire, it will create a Reroute Node within it:

You can then reposition this Reroute Node and use it to connect to other Material Expressions helping you create a better visual wire flow:

Also, you can Left Click Hold and Drag a wire from a material expression then let go of the mouse button. Search menu will pop up. Search for Reroute and insert it:

Now you have a Reroute node ready to be used:

Next Tutorial

UE4: Making Water Material in "Starter Content" Work Without Stretching or Distortions

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About World of Level Design

My name is Alex Galuzin. I am self-taught level designer, game environment artist and the creator of World of Level Design.com. I've learned everything I know from personal experimentation and decades of being around various online communities of fellow environment artist and level designers. On World of Level Design you will find tutorials to make you become the best level designer and game environment artist.

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